Last month the amazing team at Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) flew me to Japan to visit the northern country side in Aomori Prefecture and Hokodate. Japan is somewhere that’s been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember so of course I jumped at the opportunity to go.
I packed my bags and left Sydney with my eyes wide open, camera ready and adventure shoes on. And just like that, I arrived at Haneda airport early in the morning and met up with my tour guides and companions for the trip. From there we transferred from International to Domestic and hopped on another plane to Aomori. A quick one hour nap later we landed in the beautiful and peaceful country side of Aomori which is the capital city of Aomori Prefecture. First thing was first, LUNCH!
Sakanakkui no DEN is located right inside Nebuta Museum WA RASSE so it’s perfect if you want a quick bite right before you check out the history and artwork of Aomori’s Nebuta Festival.
Aomori’s Nebuta Festival is one of Japans most colourful festivals. Each paper float is lit up with hundreds of colourful lights. The museum offers a ‘Haneto’ experience where you can learn to dance like a Haneto dancer and also have a go at beating a Taiko.
Aomori is well known in these here parts as the apple capital of Japan as it produces the most apples in the country. Lucky for us, right across from the museum was the A-Factory; an apple cider brewery. Now I don’t drink, but I attempted some of the ciders on tap and there were a few that you could barely taste the alcohol and the apple taste was oh so delicious.
Can we all just take a moment to appreciate these adorable cat salts and yes I bought one because I can!
So for dinner we went to Ringobako, this brightly lit underground restaurant that had various apple crates used as tables. We were then serenaded during our meal by a passionate musician wielding a shamisen (a traditional Japanese three-stringed lute).
And that wraps up day one!
I awoke the next day to discover my tour group had been rudely awoken during the night by an earthquake that I completely slept through. A tad annoyed at myself that I just slept right through my first earthquake. But nevertheless, I was ready to take on the new day having slept soundly.
We went up to Mt. Hokkoda to check out the Sukayu Onsen Ryokan that boasts a hiba sennin-buro which is a large communal bath. This bath house also doubles as a hotel if you wish to stay the evening.
Afterwards we voyaged onwards to Oirase Gorge where we soaked up the beauty of Kumoi no taki waterfall. From there we bounced from one picturesque spot to another and set forth for Lake Towada. Before that though we had to make a pertinent pit stop to get some savory soya mochi and apple sorbet. I must say, Japan makes the best little road side snacks. Lake Towada was so serene and still aside from the ripples we made in our speedy little inflatable boat.
Then just like that we were off again. Said our goodbyes to Aomori and ventured north to Hakodate, Hokkaido. The bullet train takes approximately an hour so we took it upon ourselves to buy some yummy snacks for the ride; chips, chocolates, drinks, and more chips! Always get lots of chips!Once we arrived in Hakodate we wasted no time and headed straight for the famous night view look out situated on Mt. Hakodate. The very next day we got up bright and early and popped by the local fish market and true to form, I found somewhere to satisfy my never ending ice cream cravings. Hokkaido is famed for it’s milk and various dairy products so it only makes sense I eat three ice creams in one day.
Then we went to Onuma Quasi National Park where you get the perfect clear view of Mount Komagatake, this monumentally stunning dormant volcano.
We finished our trip with a bang out meal at Yuzen Aburiya Sara No Tsuki
And that’s a wrap! I flew back into Tokyo later that night and extended my trip for a few more days. I said goodbye to my hospitable tour guides and dared to go out there in the big city on my own.
I’m so thankful that I got this life changing opportunity to go to Japan and see more of it than I ever expected. Thank you to the wonderful people at JNTO for making my dreams come true and thank you to all the amazingly talented people I met along the way. You guys made my trip truely remarkable and memorable.